Shut up. Tolls are AWESOME.
I, on the other hand, LOVE it. (And not just because I come from a state where there are TEN turnpikes.) Let me count the ways:
- The days of 90 minute HELL COMMUTES are essentially over. If there’s zero traffic whatsoever, it should take me under 20 minutes to go door-to-door home-work. On a good day, it took 40. On a bad day… I was wasting an hour of my life staring at the SUV in front of me with the “Send Obama Back To Kenya” bumper sticker plastered indelicately next to their “GOOGLE RON PAUL ’08″ slogan. My travels this week, though, have been, well, magical. Would I pay $7 to drive the speed limit for 2/3rd of my commute? You bet I would.
- It’s forcing people to actually question whether they need to drive to work. All week there’s been whining about how full the Seattle-Bellevue buses have been. But that’s a good thing. More bus usage means more fares, and more fares means demand for more Sound Transit and Metro service across the lake. And imagine how much easier it’d be if we just had light rail to Bellevue and Redmond.
- In a state with a libertarian streak, tolls force the libertarians to confront an actual libertarian policy. Now, mind you, we’re not ceding the bridge to a private company to run and maintain like a good GOOGLE RON PAUL supporter would demand, but tolls are the sort of things libertarians love–use fees. We’re charging people to use the bridge instead of just apportioning the money for the replacement bridge of our dwindling state coffers. Of course, were you to believe the mouthbreathers commenting on the Seattle Times, this is a Grave Injustice that Must Be Stopped. And yet these are the same people who refuse to raise taxes to pay for it, demanding that people who use the bridge pay for it themselves. And then when it turns out that they’re the ones who have to pay for it, well, heads a-splode.
- It seems to be clearing up I-5 traffic, too. No, seriously.
Now, none of this will last. Eventually the shunpikers will break down and start taking 520, people will grow weary of the bus, and the traffic will rise again on 520. But at least for this winter and spring, there’s never been a better time to commute from Seattle to the Eastside if you have the coin (or a company-subsidized bus pass). It’s turned one of the biggest reasons NOT to work across the lake into, well, a lot less suckier a commute.